Raistlin and I left early the next morning. I held a little apprehension about going alone with only the two of us, but I had to push it aside. We strode along the path, towards the trees, side by side. I looked up at the sky, the red moon had not sunk, I smiled. It's a good sign.
Raistlin walked with a strange energy, and barely coughed at all. I knew what was probably going to happen, but didn't want to dwell on it. A good way down the path, some bushes rustled. I drew my dagger, and readied a spell. Raistlin reached into one of his pouches and drew out a hand full of rose petals.
Sturm and Caramon stepped out from between the trees. Sturm was wearing only his breast-plate and helmet. He carried the rest of his armour in a sack. Caramon was in his armour, and looked ready for battle.
"What do you want?" I asked, "If you're here to stop us, you won't get anywhere. I do not want to hurt you, but I will."
"We're not here to stop you. I thought you would go on your own to Skullcap, and Caramon and I decided that we would accompany you."
I almost smiled, but bit my tongue, "I do not object."
Raistlin sighed, and looked at the sky, "Nor do I. Let us go."
Caramon and Sturm looked slightly shocked at his lack of argument, but followed us. Raistlin led us through the forest, occasionally stopping and looking around, a little dazed. He led us through the trees, following a creek.
After marching several hours, he began to cough blood into one of his white handkerchiefs. I was slightly worried, remembering Fistandantilus, but knew I couldn't do anything until we got to Skullcap.
Throughout the rest of the day, Caramon made several ill-fated attempts to get Raistlin to stop, but nothing worked. Eventually, we reached the beginning of a clearing. We paused for a few moments, and Raistlin looked around, nodding occasionally.
He started off again, and I followed him, ignoring Sturm's protests, but hearing them all the same. I followed Raistlin, and noticed the shear wall of stone ahead.
It was huge, more than ten of me stacked on top of each other. It was also as smooth as glass, there was no foot holes to be found for a good while.
Raistlin stopped at a point in the wall, moved to the right for a hundred yards, and turned and did the same to the left. He stopped, and brushed snow that had stuck to the wall off. It was a symbol, clearly dwarven, but Caramon and Sturm didn't think so.
"Don't push it, it's evil magic!" Sturm declared.
"Not all magic is evil, Sturm," Caramon said softly, watching his twin. I stood beside Raistlin, hoping to avoid conflict.
Sturm snorted, but stayed quiet. Raistlin looked at me, "Crysania, come here and help Caramon open this door-"
My heart dropped into my stomach, and before Caramon and Sturm could react, I slapped Raistlin hard across the face. Raistlin practically soared into a nearby snow bank, and I felt a little better, if still pissed.
Raistlin sat up, and looked around, utterly confused, "What-?" His eyes widened, and he stood, "Lunitari's light!"
I turned around, and pressed my hand into the rune, trying not to cry. A large section of the wall depressed into the stone, and started to slide over. With a groan of metal on metal, it stopped, "Sturm, Caramon, the door is stuck. Lean on it and it should move the rest of the way."
"Sturm, shut up!" I growled, feeling magic sparking at my fingertips.
Sturm angered, but Caramon started pushing against the door, "C'mon Sturm, no point in standing here arguing all night."
Sturm begrudgingly helped Caramon push the door in. Raistlin was standing, leaning heavily on his staff. I watched, and saw his hands shaking slightly. I sighed, and picked up a handful of snow, and gently pressed it into his free hand, "I'm sorry."
Raistlin pressed the snow to his cheek, "No, I'm sorry. I let him-"
"It's not your fault, I-I just forgot that for a moment."
The door was finally opened, and we entered, Raistlin guiding us with the light of his staff. There was a thick layer of dust covering everything. There was dwarven armour and weapons strewn along the floor, and tacks that would allow carts of supplies to pass through the fortress. We decided to leave the door open, seeing as we weren't sure if we could open it again.
Sturm went down the hallway, carrying a lantern he had thought to bring. Raistlin sat, back against a wall. I sat beside him, leaning against him a little. I felt my eyes start to droop, and despite my wishes to not pressure the man I was in love with, lay down with my head on his thigh.
"What are you doing?" He whispered.
"Sleeping," I mumbled, "duh."
Raistlin shook his head, "We can get more comfortable than this."
He stood, allowing me to shuffle closer to the fire Caramon had constructed. Raistlin lay our bedrolls side by side, and slid a blanket over top. I slipped into mine, not bothering with my boots, and Raistlin went into his.
I shuffled closer to him, and angled my head so I could hear his heartbeat. I smiled, and sighed contentedly. I think this is my favourite sound in the entire world.
Frank sighed, really? You can't think of anything better?
Other than My Chemical Romance? No. Shut up so I can sleep.
The stomping of heavy boots, and Raistlin hissing, "Stop that pacing! I cannot sleep with you stomping about!" woke me up.
I blinked blearily, and yawned, "Wha?" I asked Raistlin quietly.
"Shh," Raistlin hushed me.
"What do intend to find in this accursed place?" Sturm asked, "What is so important?"
"What are you trying to find in Skullcap, Knight?" Sturm said nothing, "You did not choose to come out of concern for my brother or I. Nor did you come to help Nekitha. You know we can take care of ourselves, so why come?"
"I need not share my reasons with you, Raistlin. My reasons are my own," Sturm returned.
Sleep tugged at my eyes, wanting to curl up next to Raistlin again, but I knew this was important. What's so important? Anna asked.
Shh, I reprimanded her.
"The Hammer of Kharas," Raistlin hissed the name, drawing it out.
"What do you know of the Hammer?"
I could see Raistlin's lip curling in my minds eye. Raistlin chuckled, almost sounding as if he were clearing his throat, "While you and my brother were smashing wooden swords over each others heads, I used my time to study. Something you always mocked me for. I find it ironic that you now come running to me for answers."
I almost laughed at the image of a miniature Caramon bashing Sturm over the head with the flat part of a wooden blade, but bit my tongue and kept listening.
"I never mocked you," Sturm replied quietly, "Think of me as you will, but you can at least credit me for that. In fact, I remember clearly saving you from your tormentors. If you must know, my dislike for you stems from the way you treat your brother, and the way you have been using someone who has clearly fallen under one of your spells."
I practically felt the grin crumbled off of Raistlin's face. I myself felt anger build in my chest.
"Do not mettle in matters that do not concern you, Brightblade," The scathing tone in which Raistlin said this made my heart flutter. He was protecting us, "and what happens between my brother and I stays between my brother and I. You cannot understand."
"You are right: I do not understand. Caramon loves you, he would lay down his life for you, and you treat him like garbage. I have seen the woman beside you nearly give up everything to save you, and you treat her almost the same way."
Anger burned in my chest, and I reached over and grabbed Sturm's wrist, as he was sitting close to us, "Brightblade, I suggest you leave personal matters out of this conversation. Raistlin, lease tell him about the Hammer, so we can go to bed."
"That which is now known as the Hammer of Kharas was not always called such. It was originally known as the Hammer of Honour, honouring the Hammer of Reorx. The Hammer of Honour was a symbol of peace for the humans of Ergoth, the elves of Qualinesti, and the dwarves of Thorbardin. During the Third Dragon War, the Hammer was given to the Knight Huma Dragonbane. It was used, along with the Silver Arm to create the first dragonlances. With that, they drove the Queen of darkness back to the Abyss, until now."
Raistlin took as deep of a breath as possible before continuing, "When the Dwarfgate Wars broke out, King Duncan gave the Hammer of Honour to Kharas, a dwarf so revered, the Hammer's name was changed. The Hammer was last seen being wielded by Kharas. He departed the field of battle early, however, grieved at being forced to battle his own kind. He carried the Hammer into Thorbardin, and as far as anyone knows, that is where it is to this day."
Raistlin paused again, before adding, "He who finds the Hammer and uses it to forge dragonlances will be declared a hero. He will find fame, honour and glory."
"I suppose you want the Hammer for yourself, then," Sturm said.
Raistlin's shoulders shook, and he chuckled, "No, Sturm Brightblade. I do not wish for fame, only power."
Sturm was quiet for a moment, before standing, "I am going to sleep."
"The Hammer is not in Skullcap. If it still exists, it is in Thorbardin. If you are truely seeking the Hammer, you should have left with Tanis and Flint."
"You said the key to Thorbardin lies in Skullcap," Sturm said, pausing in his movements.
"I did, but since when does anyone ever listen to me?" Raistlin whispered. I could swear I could hear more bitterness in his tone than I'd had in a long time.
"Tanis listens, and that is why he sent me with you, to make sure if you find the key, you will deliver it."
Raistlin settled down beside me again, and Sturm stomped over to wake Caramon for watch. I sighed, and felt unknown feelings of uneasiness rustle in my chest, but Raistlin draped an arm over my waist, and I felt all was well with the world.
Well, at least as right it can be here.
The morning was cool, and the sun barely lit the grey tunnel. We decided we would continue. Raistlin led the way staff alight. Sturm carried a lit lantern behind us.
The tunnel cut straight through the mountain. The walls were rough, and floor relatively smooth. There were no signs of it ever being used.
"If the dwarves had been fleeing from here, we would find armour, broken weapons, bodies... This was never used," Caramon observed.
"Which roved Fistandantilus did not cause the blast intentionally," Raistlin stated, "It was an accident."
"What caused it, though" Caramon asked.
"Foul magic," Sturm interjected.
I rolled my eyes, but Raistlin answered before I could, "I know of no magic powerful enough to bring down a fortress like this, foul or not. According to Flint, the blast also laid waste to land around the fortress for miles. The wise have long wondered what happened here, perhaps it will be us to discover the truth."
I smiled, but ducked my head, I wanted to say it was the Portal, but knew if I did there would be major explaining to do.
"You will write a treatise on the subject, no doubt," Sturm said, "and read it aloud at the next Wizard's Conclave."
Raistlin smiled, "I might at that."
We continued on.
Most of the day was uneventful, the tunnel was long, and did not change much. I knew the area was known to get earthquakes, and the walls occaisonally showed that. They had withheld, and little damage had been done.
Raistlin was strangely energized again, and led the way. Whenever we called for a halt, Raistlin would caustically remind us of what was on the line: lives of millions.
We had no way to tell time, and no way to tell how many miles we crossed. Occasionally, we came across marks on the wall that seemed to mark distance, the marks were in Dwarven, though, and we couldn't read it.
We walked for a very, very long time. I normally was neck deep in conversation with T'manna, Frank and Anna, and sometimes with Caramon and Sturm.
I was talking to T'manna about the various things from Earth I missed, when Sturm called attention to an increase in rubble, and debris. The damage to the walls had increased as well. We all knew it meant we were nearing the blast site.
"What will we do if the blast destroyed the tunnel?" Sturm asked, looking at a large pile of stone.
"We must believe that we can get through," I replied, I pointed to the ceiling, "The beams aren't damaged, so there should be a path somewhere."
We continued walking before almost walking into a wall, I bit my lip, "This is a hidden door, right?"
"Do you have no faith in me, Crysania?" Raistlin raised the Staff to look for marks on the wall.
My mouth went dry, but I kept my temper.
"Who's Crysania?" Caramon asked Sturm in a whisper.
"It's better if we don't know," Sturm replied.
"Found it!" Raistlin exclaimed, pointing at the rune that had also been at the entrance. He pressed it, the rune slid into the wall, and a door appeared. It slid to the side, and slammed back into the remaining wall with a resounding boom.
Sturm snorted, "Nothing like announcing our presence."
"Shh!" Raistlin held u his hand.
"It's a little late for that," Caramon shared a glance with Sturm.
"If you were to remove your helm, you may find a brain inside," Raistlin said scathingly, "The noises I hear are coming from there-" With that, he pointed to the newly opened doorway."
As the echoes died down, we heard the clashing of steel, and shouting.
"Dulak!" Raistlin hissed. The light of his staff went out.
"Why did you do that?" Sturm muttered, "As much as I hate to admit it, that blasted light of yours could be useful."
"It is not wise to announce to your enemies that you are a wizard," Raistlin hissed.
"Are you telling me magic works best in stealth and darkness?" Sturm retorted.
"Cut it out you two!" Caramon interrupted.
"It seems someone else is interested in the secrets of Skullcap," I remarked.
"I am going to investigate, you can stay here."
I shook my head, "No, we all go together."
Author's Note: Hey! I'm not dead! Woohoo! This chapter is over 2000 words, so I hope its as long as some people want. If you haven't read Dragons of the Dwarven Depths, I strongly suggest you do, it's one of my favourites. And please, do not mock my use of extra U's, I'm Canadian, we have U's in words Americans don't.
Disclaimer: I do not own Dragonlance, I swear, if I did, Raistlin wouldn't have died.